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Using historic eras to gain points

As pointed out previously, knowing the approximate year of a key term can give you the power to answer a multiple-choice question correctly. Here's an example question that you can answer if you have an idea about what happened during particular eras:

1 All the following were results of the First Great Awakening EXCEPT

(A) more and stronger churches

(B) the founding of new colleges and universities

(C) nationwide religious enthusiasm

(D) a return to the persecution of witches

(E) ministers with followings of thousands

You could score on this question from several directions. First, the minute you see the word EXCEPT, LEAST, or NOT, you know you need to be careful. You're looking for an extreme that just doesn't fit with the rest of the answers.

Even if you are not clear about the First Great Awakening (covered in Part II), you can work with whatever you have in your brain. You may know that the witch hunting died out in the 1690s and that the First Great Awakening didn't occur until 40 years later. You may realize that history is written by the winners and that they'd be unlikely to give the name Awakening to something as ugly as burning women. You could also figure out that persecution of witches is a standout in a list with unifying words like churches, colleges, enthusiasm, and ministers. Therefore, you know that the First Great Awakening was not about a return to the persecution of witches. The answer is (D).

If you have to, guess. Before you do, eliminate what you can. For example, because (A), (C), and (E) all sound like they are in the same theme, you can eliminate them from being the extreme. You'd be statistically way ahead even if you had to guess between (B) and (D).

Questioning illustrations

The test writers usually throw in few multiple-choice questions illustrated with pictures or charts. These illustrated questions can actually be easier than regular multiple-choice challenges. The illustration contains most of the answer; you just need to know what it's telling you.

1. What does the following chart, which conveys the median personal income by educational attainment, illustrate about income and education?

(A) It's always better to stay in school.

(B) Many people older than 25 are rich.

(C) Everybody with a bachelor's degree makes at least $43,143.

(D) Income tends to rise with education.

(E) These figures are the minimum salaries for each education level.

The right answer is (D), income tends to rise with education. The important point with illustrated questions is to look hard at the picture and stick to what the illustration shows. Don't think too hard and outsmart yourself by over interpreting. The chart shows median personal income, not a guarantee. The correct answer on illustration questions is often the most moderate one with words like tends instead of the words better, rich or everybody, which appear in the wrong answers.

Sometimes, the test asks you to identify a picture's background information; as in this example:

Sometimes, the test asks you to identify a picture's background information; as in this example:

1. What are the era and social orientation of this cartoon?

(A) Southern Confederates

(B) Northern Democrats

(C) Slave owners, before the Civil War

(D) Northern abolitionists

(E) Reconstruction education, post-Civil War

The illustration indicates that the orientation is Northern, with strong abolitionist sentiments, making (D) the correct answer. (A) and (C) are incorrect because Confederates and slave owners would not have supported "Emancipation" written at the top of the picture. There is no image of education in the illustration, so (E) can't be it. And (B) is wrong because Northern Democrats before the war were almost never abolitionists.

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